Breaking down the $900B stimulus package and $1.4T omnibus bill
Here’s a breakdown of what’s inside the massive year-end compromise, according to Democratic and Republican summaries obtained by POLITICO:
$166 billion in direct checks — Individuals making up to $75,000 a year will receive a payment of $600, while couples making up to $150,000 will receive $1,200, in addition to $600 per child. The deal also makes the stimulus checks more accessible to immigrant families.
$120 billion in extra unemployment help — Jobless workers will get an extra $300 per week in federal cash through March 14. The legislation also extends employment benefits to self-employed individuals, gig workers and those who’ve exhausted their state benefits.
$325 billion small business boost — Pandemic-ravaged small businesses would see a total of $325 billion, including $284 billion in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, $20 billion for businesses in low-income communities and $15 billion for struggling live venues, movie theaters and museums — a major priority for Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Totaling tax breaks — The legislation allows businesses to deduct expenses associated with their forgiven PPP loans, in addition to expanding the employee retention credit intended to prevent layoffs. It includes a two-year tax break for business meals — a priority for President Donald Trump — and rolls over a variety of temporary tax breaks known as “extenders,” some for multiple years. The package also extends a payroll tax subsidy for employers offering workers paid sick leave and boosts the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Border wall status quo — The government funding portion of the year-end package would maintain nearly $1.4 billion in cash for Trump’s southern border wall, in addition to $20 million for new border processing coordinators.
$45 billion in transportation aid — That includes $15 billion to help airlines maintain their payrolls, $14 billion for mass transit, $10 billion for state highways, $2 billion for airports and $1 billion for Amtrak.
Food and farmer assistance — The year-end package includes $13 billion to bolster food stamp benefits by 15 percent, although it doesn’t expand SNAP eligibility. Farmers and ranchers will also see another $13 billion round of direct payments to help cover pandemic-induced losses.
‘Surprise billing’ deal: The omnibus includes an agreement to protect patients from receiving “surprise” medical bills after last-minute haggling — a major priority for retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). As POLITICO reported earlier this month, shielding insured patients from eye-popping medical bills for unexpected out-of-network and emergency care has been a bipartisan priority for lawmakers, but progress had been stalled for over a year.
$69 billion for vaccines, testing and tracing — The package includes $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, nearly $9 billion for vaccine distribution and about $22 billion to help states with testing, tracing and Covid-19 mitigation programs.
Restoring Medicaid for the Marshallese — Tens of thousands of Marshall Islanders will be allowed to sign up for Medicaid, with the year-end agreement revising a drafting mistake in the 1996 welfare reform bill that barred the islanders from the program. The problem was detailed in a series of POLITICO stories this year.
Rental aid and an eviction ban — Of the $25 billion in federal rental assistance, $800 million is set aside for Native American housing entities. A federal eviction ban has been extended through the end of January.
Infusion for schools and child care — Included in the $82 billion total for colleges and universities is more than $4 billion for a governors’ relief fund, more than $54 billion for public K-12 schools and nearly $23 billion for a higher education fund. Separately, the child care sector will receive about $10 billion in emergency cash.
Higher education compromise: The legislation includes a bipartisan agreement to forgive nearly $1.3 billion in federal loans to historically Black colleges and universities, deliver Pell grants to incarcerated students after a 26-year ban and simplify financial aid forms — the last of those three has been a long-time priority for the retiring Alexander.
Pay boost for troops — The omnibus portion of the year-end package includes a 3 percent military pay raise.
Keeping contractor relief: The package continues a CARES Act program that allows contractors to keep employees on the payroll even if federal facilities close.
A variety of reauthorizations: The government funding piece includes a compromise version of an annual intelligence authorization bill and ensures that a major water infrastructure package will hitch a ride to passage. It also includes technical corrections to the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement.
A boon for broadband: The agreement invests $7 billion to increase expand broadband access for students, families and unemployed workers, including $300 million for rural broadband and $250 million for telehealth.
Dan Diamond, Michael Stratford, Stephanie Beasley and Brian Faler contributed to this report.